The vagaries of April weather…

Tuesday 3rd April; distance: 3.5 miles; 1 lock

Scottish Sister (resident on the Black Isle, NE of Inverness, only about 100 feet above sea level) rang this morning. “We’re under four inches of snow, we have no power, this time last week we were sitting on the patio in short sleeved shirts!” Meanwhile on Cleddau there were several weather related plans. Plan A: stay put during all the predicted rain, scuttle out later to shop, huddle inside boat again for the remainder of the day. Plan B ran along the lines of: shop when not too wet, if it dries up later potter on a bit. In the event Plan C evolved: shop, reverse a couple of hundred yards back (under the bridge and round the corner) to fill up with water, then assess the situation… So, one crew member loaded up the washing machine, another took a shower. Time to ponder: with just one lock between Middlewich and Anderton to slow down tomorrow’s trip why not do the lock too? So Cleddau was moved forward to Big Lock (the only double lock on the Trent and Mersey) whereupon the heavy rains started in earnest…

It was while waiting for the lock to fill that Boatwif spotted a Middlewich Civic Events notice. Festivals is what they go in for here, pretty well on a monthly basis, Canalside Folk and Blues in June, Transport in July, Charity Beer in October – to name but three.

Once clear of Big Lock the canal becomes essentially rural. It crosses the narrow Croxton Aqueduct, and wends and weaves its way along the contour.  Close by to the west and below the canal level snakes the River Dane while occasionally on the eastern side the water becomes expansive. Around here where the banks have subsided due to the salt workings the wider waters are called “flashes”.  We’re moored quietly beside one now, just north of Whatcroft, disturbed only by the swan tapping on the galley window and the ducks playing among the reeds.

Short cruising days do allow for some domestic activities: apart from the shopping and the laundry Operation Picture Hang took place. A fellow rugby-playing schoolmate of the Captain’s (the Geologist) has an enormous store of Pembrokeshire photographs. Recently he’d relayed digital versions of the Cleddau ferry boats, so, newly mounted and framed, there were two pictures to be hung this afternoon. And, coincidence, while the business was underway who should be speaking on the radio but Wales’s favourite historian, another fellow schoolmate and co-author with the aforementioned photographer/geologist! Another of those small world moments…

The sun has shone this afternoon and evening but clouds are building to the north. Tomorrow – to Anderton, to be joined by Relief Captain and First Mate, then to take Cleddau onto  “the biggest Meccano set ever”  (Geoff, nb Seyella) to descend to the River Weaver.

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